Climate Education 1 – The DfE launched its new Sustainability & Climate Change strategy last Friday at COP26. You can read it here. The strategy will apply to the Department’s arms-length bodies; the education and children’s services systems in England (Early Years, Schools, Further Education, Higher Education and Children’s Social Care). Its focus is on environmental sustainability. DfE says that it brings together short, medium and longer-term actions that will enable it to make progress towards achieving its four strategic aims and overarching vision. It is a strategy to 2030 and will be reviewed and updated to respond to scientific updates, evidence and data. This draft will be used for engagement and will be under review from November 2021 until March 2022. A final strategy will be published in April 2022.
Gen Zero – At COP26 last Thursday, DfE invited us to”Watch an exciting lesson on the topics of sustainability and climate change within the newly built Gen-Zero classroom, and find out how teachers and young people can help to tackle the [issues].” You might already have seen the Teach the Teacher session on YouTube. It was introduced by the head civil servant at the DfE, and comprised a presentation by two young climate activists.
Greener Governance – The NGA – National Governance Association – has launched its Greener Governance campaign to encourage all schools and trusts to agree a strategy for their contribution to environmental sustainability, and to equip governing boards to play their role in overseeing this work. The NGA is asking every governing board to make the Greener Governance pledge to: [i] reduce carbon at their school or trust; [ii] put their school’s or trust’s contribution to environmental sustainability on the agenda; and [iii] ensure a plan is developed to make this happen in 2022. To support boards in doing this it has renewed its guidance that is published in partnership with NAEE, outlining how to develop a whole school approach, the 4 Cs of sustainability and how to lead change and engage stakeholders. The NGA has also featured a climate related cover story in its membership magazine referencing the campaign.
Green Jobs Arguments – In NAEE’s written evidence to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee [EAC] inquiry into Green Jobs we called for all school leavers to have an essential understanding of key environmental issues. The committee’s report is now published. Section 4 (page 37 onwards: the Education and Skills Pipeline) begins by quoting NAEE’s key point:
“92. Contributors told us that the transition to a green economy means that everyone will need an awareness of climate change and environmental sustainability. The National Association for Environmental Education indicated that to facilitate this, all school leavers should have an essential understanding of key environmental issues: We say this because a knowledge and understanding of the essence of, and background to, all this cannot be the responsibility of every employer, just as essential numeracy and literacy are not. As with literacy and numeracy, it ought to be the responsibility of schools to work with students to develop appropriate attitudes, knowledge, understanding and skills related to living and working as though nature mattered. Indeed, these are sometimes described as environmental literacy.”
Green Jobs Recommendations – These are the EAC’s (school education and skills) recommendations:
102. We recommend that environmental sustainability be included across all primary and secondary courses delivered through the National Curriculum and across A Level courses. Teachers should be supported to deliver this, with teacher training and continuous professional development. We recommend that the Department for Education consult all relevant stakeholders during the 2021/22 academic year on the delivery of this recommendation.
103. Our previous report on biodiversity in the UK identified that education could provide a crucial lever to address inequalities in access to nature. The Government’s Children and Nature Programme went some way in increasing access opportunities for schoolchildren, however the programme is due to end in March 2022. We consider this misses an opportunity to build on the successes of the programme through expanding the programme, to further widen access to nature in education and contribute to building a future green skills pipeline by attracting more young people into green careers.
104. By the end of January 2022, the Government should engage with delivery partners and schools in order to extend the Children and Nature programme beyond March 2022 and expand the number of delivery projects within the programme, using the evaluation project findings to inform the design and implementation of this expansion.
50 Years On – NAEE is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year to mark its foundation in September 1971. The background to this was the growth throughout the 1960s of an interest in what quickly became known as “the environment”. In the intervening 50 years NAEE has been both an active contributor to developments, and a chronicler of events through its journal, Environmental Education, its newsletters to members and its wider publications. In an article for the 50th anniversary edition of the journal, our Chair of Trustees looks back through this literature to highlight a few of the significant contributions that NAEE made up to the millennium. You can read it here. The anniversary journal will be with members this month.
Climate Education 2 – There was a climate education debate last week in parliament in Westminster Hall. The new minister of state for school standards spoke. You can read the full transcript of the debate here, and see some media coverage of the debate here and here.